Once a week I take my daughter to the best mother and baby group in the world.
It’s nothing fancy – just donated toys and books set out in a church hall, although they are fortunate to have masses of games that have been kept really well. It is run by a lovely group of volunteers, all retired, including a former nurse and a health visitor. They all adore children and are great with kids. And there is always a fantastic selection of chocolate biscuits to go with your cup of coffee.
But none of these things are what make it the best.
What makes it so special is that while the children play in the hall with the volunteers, the mothers all go next door and spend the whole hour on their own. Sometimes we play games, sometimes there are interesting guest speakers, sometimes there are food tastings. And sometimes we just have a chat.
We have whole, uninterrupted, adult conversations. And for that hour I completely forget about the little girl in the room next door and enjoy being myself again.
This week we played board games and I got caught up in a really competitive strategic game, and before I knew it the hour was up. (I won, in case you are interested.)
When I went back into the hall my daughter, who was dashing about excitedly at the other end of the room, turned and saw me and ran towards me with an enormous beam on her face. I scooped her up in my arms and we shared a lingering embrace.
And in that moment I remembered how much I actually like her.
It’s funny how easy it is to forget that I do really enjoy her company.
I seem to spend all day, everyday telling her not to do things, cleaning up after her, worrying about her and willing her to go to sleep so I can just have five minutes peace.
It’s easy to recall all the bad things when I sit down to reflect about parenting. I’ve come to neglect mentioning all the fun we have together.
But let’s not forget it took us an hour of Time Out to get to this happy scene.
So I make it my mantra to moan about motherhood. And keep the best bits between us two.